Nov. 6, 2012 – 9:29 p.m.

113th Congress: Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis. (Senate)

Once sworn in, Tammy Baldwin will be the first openly gay senator in the chamber’s history. To reach that milestone, she had to stop the conservative momentum in her home state, where Republicans had been making a habit of winning statewide races.

In 14 years in the House, she consistently staked out liberal policy grounds. Baldwin, who served as vice chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus in the 112th Congress (2011-12), is a near-lock to side with her party on votes that pit a majority of Democrats against a majority of Republicans.

She was a staunch advocate of a government-run health insurance program during the health care debate of 2009 and 2010. Her Republican opponent for the Senate, former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson, campaigned on repealing the health care law and highlighted her intent to take the overhaul further. Baldwin focused on the importance of social safety-net programs, especially Medicare, which she believes to be “more than a program, but a promise.”

In 1999, Baldwin was one of the few lawmakers to oppose a repeal of the Depression-era Glass-Steagall law that once separated the commercial and investment activities of banks. Baldwin later was a vocal opponent of the Iraq War and was one of 133 House members to vote against the authorization of combat in 2002.

During the 112th Congress she championed the so-called Buffett Rule, which would impose a surtax on Americans making more than $1 million per year. Baldwin also emphasizes her support of legislation to impose fines on China in response to the country’s presumed currency manipulation.

Baldwin has been a leader in Congress on gay issues; she was the first openly gay non-incumbent elected to Congress and has been openly gay throughout her years in public service. She was a lead sponsor of the measure that helped repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the military policy banning openly gay military personnel, and introduced in 2009 legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

In the House, Baldwin served on the Energy and Commerce Committee, holding down the second-highest Democratic seat on its Environment and the Economy panel as well as a seat on the Health Subcommittee. She is likely to request assignment to comparable committees in the Senate, such as Environment and Public Works or Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.